Early last month Google tossed its latest creation into the shark pool: A new programming language called Go. To the surprise of exactly no one, the experimental project has survived its first month without scathe or scar. Could this mean it’s once again time for Microsoft to batten down the hatches?
As far as we understand it, Go’s core mission is simply to make things faster for Google.
"In Google we have very large software systems and we spend so long literally waiting for compilations,” explained Rob Pike, one of the three founders of the Google Go project. “We…realized many of the reasons for that are just fundamental in working in languages like C and C++, and we needed a different approach. We also decided the tools that everybody used were also slow. So we wanted to start from scratch to write the kind of programs we need to write here at Google in a way that the tools could be really efficient and the build cycles could be very short."
As per usual for Big G, the initiative is open-source and also multipurpose. This means that in addition to a new avenue for both Web and mobile development, the eventual creation of an entire ecosystem and integrated development environments is highly likely, if not inevitable.
Pike remains modest. When asked if he thought Go might be the next big thing in programming he said, “I’d be thrilled if that happened, but I don’t expect it. This is a kind of skunk works project. We put out what we've got so far, but one of the big reasons we did that is we want people to help us expand it and put in support for the Windows operating system…”
Those are Microsoft’s Toes!
Modesty or no modesty, it’s hard not consider how this is going to stir up a community that Microsoft has had a stronghold on for quite some time.
After all, much like Google’s goal to create a communicative system based on present day technology with the release of Wave, Go is an attempt at a language based on our current understanding of programming rather than that of the days of yore when C++ and Java were born.
Still in its beta phase, Wave has managed to remain the talk of the ‘net for quite some time, although it’s still hard to tell whether or not it will replace traditional e-mail. Point is, even if nabbing up Microsoft’s community of developers isn’t an ulterior motive, their being romanced by a shiny new up-to-date toy from Google is highly likely.
It’s worth mentioning that Pike claims to see Go as an alternative rather than a competing language, but perhaps that’s only because right now the project is still wearing virtual diapers. A lot of work will need to be done in order to get this baby anywhere close to ready for a good battle, but it already looks like most eyes are peeled and ready.
Check out more information on Go, including the conceptual differences between it and traditional languages, here.